I didn’t think about this prompt when I decided to do something new and completely out of character last weekend.
On Saturday, my family met up with some friends who live in Denver and we all went to the Denver County Fair. Over lunch, we noticed that at 3 pm, there was a spelling bee. My son was surprisingly willing to compete. I decided to do it too.
I am not a person to put myself forward in public. I am not incredibly competitive either, although I do like to win (who doesn’t?). For me, the possibility of losing is much scarier than the thin hope of winning. And this involved standing up on a stage in front of strangers. But hey, my kid was doing it. I had to be at least as courageous as my son, right?
I went to sign up. As I was writing my name, I heard the woman behind me saying that she’d done this last year and that she’d won a ribbon. My heart curled up like the toes on the Wicked Witch of the East after Dorothy’s house dropped on it. People do this more than once?
The kids went first. It’s hard to watch your child compete. You want him to do well. You want him to handle failure with grace. You want him to win the damn ribbon!
Now add to that the knowledge that in a short amount of time, YOU will be the one on the stage with all eyes on you, with your voice being projected by microphone out over the crowd — not a very big crowd, but still! — with everyone sitting there judging your intelligence, your very worth in this world by the words you can spell…
Can you guess that grades were very important to me in school?
My son did very well. He nearly got a ribbon. In fact, he would have gotten a ribbon if the kid before him hadn’t gotten a free pass about four times. Seriously, that kid misspelled four different words but they just didn’t catch it.
So the time came for the adult round. I was extremely nervous, which, added to the fluorescent lights, for someone with my brain chemistry is a migraine waiting to happen. But once we got started, I managed to center myself.
Until I got up there to spell a word, and my family and friends started cheering. They nearly broke my composure.
I can’t tell you what all of my words were. I remember “torrential” and “pejorative” and there was a word that started with “c.” At one point I made a joke. The moderator looked at me as though I had just started speaking in tongues.
I’ll never forget the word that got me out.
It was “groceteria.” If you know what it means without looking it up, I’ll give you a ribbon.